Assessment of health-related needs after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita--Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, New Orleans area, Louisiana, October 17-22, 2005

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2006 Jan 20;55(2):38-41.


Residents returning home after natural disasters face numerous physical, mental, and social challenges. Seven weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck the New Orleans area in Louisiana, causing levees to break and large sections of the city to flood, local authorities had reopened most of Jefferson Parish and much of Orleans Parish to residents. To identify health-related needs among returning parish residents, state and local public health and mental health agencies and CDC conducted an assessment of living conditions, access to basic services, and physical and mental health status. This report describes the results of that assessment, which determined that, approximately 7 weeks after Hurricane Katrina made landfall, 20.2% of housing units lacked water, 24.5% had no electricity, 43.2% had no telephone service, and 55.7% of households contained one or more members with a chronic health condition. In addition, 49.8% of adults exhibited levels of emotional distress, indicating a potential need for mental health services. As a result of these findings, the Louisiana Office of Mental Health established a crisis-counseling program to provide interventions and support to hurricane survivors. Community assessments after natural disasters can identify health-related needs and guide public health interventions.

MeSH terms

  • Disasters*
  • Humans
  • Louisiana
  • Needs Assessment*
  • Public Health Practice*